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Woman killed in arson attack was forced to move home over threat she would be shot dead

A mother of one who died with her five-year-old nephew in a firebomb attack had been threatened in a letter and got a text message saying she would be shot.

Helena O'Dwyer's grieving dad has confirmed his daughter had only moved back to the family home for Easter after receiving a terrifying letter warning that her own bungalow would be firebombed.

She had also received a disturbing text message claiming that she would be shot, her father said.

The revelations came as the young man questioned by gardai in connection with the arson attack went into hiding after being released from custody.

Helena (25) and her nephew Ryan died when a petrol bomb was thrown at the house in Mahon, Cork in which they were staying last Easter Sunday morning at 3.15am.

The aunt and her young nephew became trapped in an upstairs bedroom in the Nutley Avenue house.

Helena's parents -- Joe (55) and Helena Snr (49) -- managed to get other family members out of the blazing house including Ms O'Dwyer's daughter Courtney (5), and her sister Dawn (22) with her two children, Katelyn (4) and William (2).

However, Helena is understood to have run back into an upstairs bedroom in an heroic bid to save Ryan, the son of her sister, Josephine.

Both were tragically overcome by smoke and heat.

Her father revealed that his daughter had been left terrified by an ongoing campaign of threats and intimidation -- and had moved back to the family home for her own safety.

He was horrified by threats she received by letter and by text -- and the fact that she had been physically assaulted in her own home a week before Easter.

When she moved back into her parents' home, she received a text warning that her location was known.

"[It said] there is a bullet waiting for you. We know where you are. Mahon is a small place. RIP.

"She received a letter telling her that her home was going to be petrol-bombed. The letter was put in her [bungalow's] letterbox and it said she would be bombed out of it, petrol-bombed and shot. She was very afraid.



upset

"The gardai came over and they took the letter from Helena. It was signed with the initials of a person.

"On Thursday of last week she came to us and we did not feel under threat when she moved in with us.

"But I was told this morning an individual had been seen in the area in the past couple of days. He was at the back of our house as if he was looking for an exit route or something."

Mr O'Dwyer added: "I am very upset because the letter was delivered and then it [the firebombing] happened.

"I do believe that if something had been done, Helena and Ryan would still be alive today. It was a very serious threat."

He said his family has been totally devastated by the loss of Helena and Ryan -- and are struggling to come to terms with what happened.

Mr O'Dwyer also pleaded for privacy to allow his family to grieve in peace.

hnews@herald.ie


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